In the first laboratory test of its kind in the world, scientists have frozen coral larvae from the Great Barrier Reef so that it can be released back into the wild to regenerate degraded habitats.
Taking a leading role, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is building on work done by scientists from the Smithsonian National Zoo and a team at the University of Minnesotaʻs College of Science and Engineering. They have used “cryomesh” technology to store coral larvae at -196C (-320.8°F) temperatures. Cryomesh is a specially fabricated mesh used as substrate in cryopreservation. This is lightweight and can be manufactured cheaply. It better preserves coral and has the properties of cryoplates.
With the Great Barrier Reef suffering four separate bleaching events in recent years, it is hoped that the new technique could build a bigger, more diverse bank of frozen living corals, thus preserving biodiversity and eventually helping to rewild reefs damaged by climate change.
image: Senior research scientist at Smithsonian National Zoo And Conservation Biology Institute, Mary Hagedorn works with modern-mesh technology in liquid nitrogen at the Australian Institute Of Marine Science in Townsville, Australia December 14, 2022. REUTERS/Jill Gralow